Sports Women's Sports

Springfield College women’s basketball NEWMAC tournament preview

Luke Whitehouse

As the regular season concluded Saturday with a win against conference foe Mount Holyoke, the Springfield College women’s basketball team had a strong feeling who they’d be seeing in the opening round of the NEWMAC tournament: WPI.

WPI comes in with a record of 17-6 overall and 7-3 in the conference. And while Springfield is also 7-3 in the conference, its 68-63 loss to the Engineers on Feb. 4th slotted them one seed behind them, and pushed them out of the chance to play at home. 

On Wednesday Feb. 22, the Pride will get a chance to avenge their earlier loss to WPI.

“We were not really prepared for their physicality last time,” senior forward Sam Hourihan said. “But I think it’s something we’re much more ready for.” 

Although the game was close, and conference games are always challenging, Springfield head coach Naomi Graves knows this game will be different. 

“We’re excited playing [WPI] because we know we’re a different team now than when we were then,” Graves said. “The way our team is coming together is awesome. Watching our players execute and just have fun on the court is something that I’m hoping we’re gonna set up for the next game.” 

The Pride finished the regular season 17-6, winning their last three games by an average margin of 36 ponts, and hope to carry  momentum into the playoffs. Springfield’s offense has started to flow as of late, sharing the ball more, and creating higher quality shots. The Pride have also shown off their depth, as six different players have scored in double figures over the final three contests. 

But with WPI’s physical nature on the defensive end, it won’t be as easy. 

“I think we get to certain points in our offense where we take quick shots,” senior guard Rachel Vinton said. “So we’ve been really running through the offense, looking for counters that we can use in the game.” 

On the defensive end, Springfield has its work cut out for. WPI’s guard centric offense and success on the boards proved to be too much last time out. The Engineers out rebounded the Pride 40-29, while also knocking down 12 threes. 

“Defensively, we really have to practice working on defending screens and defending their post play,” Graves said. “We have to do a good job boxing out and rebounding as well.” 

The environment WPI possesses is a whole different challenge in itself. The Engineers have a thunderous crowd who shows up as well as a band that plays throughout the game. 

But, despite the loud atmosphere, and the toughness WPI exuberates, Graves and the Pride are ready for the challenge – with hopes to make another deep run into the postseason. 

“You can’t get in the dance unless you go through the door,” Graves said. “With our losses in the conference, we need to prove our worth that we deserve to get a look (for the NCAA tournament).”

Photo Courtesy of Springfield College Athletics

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